Italy

Italy remains one of the key, flagship markets for wool. Italian brands continue to be a dominant influence in the fashion category, especially in menswear. It is also clear through the recent aggregation of some manufacturing enterprises that a resurgence in quality manufacturing within Italy is occurring, although this is unlikely to be at a rate to offset the shift of Italian manufacturing volume, primarily to China.

Whilst it is a global resource, our primary trade tool, The Wool Lab, originated in Italy and to date has resonated strongly with other flagship and manufacturing markets. Potential luxury market size is 47 million consumers.

Market size

  • Italy, like much of Southern Europe, is set to continue in a consumer downturn in the short to medium term. This suggests that while The Woolmark Company should have both a commercial presence and active campaigns in the market, it is the Italian influence on the global market that should be our strategic driver.
  • As a design and manufacturing hub, Italy will continue to rank as one of our major areas of activity. Strong partnerships have been forged over the past few years with brands such as Zegna, Loro Piana, Armani and Missoni. This prioritisation of key accounts and active development of collaborative programs will continue.
  • It is also apparent that the increased consumer focus on provenance is impacting Italian brand thinking. In marketing circles “provenance is the new luxury” is an accepted direction Italian brands are selectivity pursuing.

Insights

  • Consumers still like shopping in-store, but more for fun than for buying. In Italy the biggest trend is absolutely the 'outlet' store concept. The percentage of consumers that buy in the 'city centre' fashion stores for full price is decreasing.
  • The trend to online purchasing is also increasing. Yoox, Net-a-Porter and Vente Privee are the main online stores demonstrating local growth, as is a new online site called Farfetch.com – an example of an 'aggregation' site that gathers together the best fashion boutique content worldwide. It is a ‘virtual department store'.
  • Key consumer attributes driving product selection in the fashion apparel market are: bio/ecological, iconic/ authentic, fitted and quality.

Opportunity for wool

  • Fashion is important and it is critical to position the Woolmark brand and the Merino wool fibre perception high in consumers’ minds. Steps must be taken to ensure this is reflected also in urban and casual categories.
  • Sports-based apparel is a key opportunity to make the consumer aware of wool’s benefits; of course the price is a barrier to the volume brands.
  • The awareness and understanding of wool and the benefits it delivers in apparel to the final consumer is paramount.
  • Consumer education is also required at brand and retailer levels.